3 Ways To Grow Your Art Portfolio Quickly

Starting out as an artist can be incredibly daunting, especially if you’re self-taught like I am. You don’t usually know where to begin, and should you bring up your passion for art, the first thing people want to see is a body of work that they assume you’ve already built.

Many new artists often take a while to amass enough work to show off, and often lose potential opportunities (competitions, commissions, placements etc), purely because there isn’t enough tangible evidence of their skill!

So here are 3 effective ways that you can quickly build up a good, effective portfolio.

These work, I promise!


1. Work with several different media.

This may seem like a lot of work, but trust me when I tell you there is nothing that impresses a potential client/boss more than versatility.


If you take a look at my online portfolio, you’ll notice that I work with a lot of different traditional media, from basic graphite to much more complicated acrylic paints. Why? Honestly, because I love to learn. However, having your fingers in several different pies keeps you constantly interested. Novelty often appeals to the mind, and you’ll find that suddenly, you’re able to spend much longer actually creating new pieces, as opposed to pondering on it.

This is a great tip to remember even when you’ve got a significantly large portfolio. For instance, lately I’ve been losing patience with pencils and paints (for reasons unknown to me). So, I am now teaching myself digital art, and I’m absolutely in love with it! It took a couple of false starts, but I’m far enough into a piece now, that I can see it reaching completion. Plus, I’m drawing for hours at a stretch to the point where my fingers are physically cramping up; not entirely healthy, but the feeling of satisfaction it leaves you with is absolutely glorious!

2. Put The Freeloaders To Use.

You know whom I’m talking about, the ones who believe that merely their magnificent presence in your life warrants a free piece of art. *grumble*


Now don’t get me wrong, I despise people who exploit a defenseless artist as much as the next girl, but here’s a positive way to look at it: what you create is yours, and yours alone. If someone brings a reference that really does interest you, tell them you’ll do it, but you won’t be able to give them the original piece or file. Lo’ and behold! You have your next portfolio piece!

This might come with a bit of nagging, not everyone will want you to keep the drawing, so make sure to mention this before you start working on it. No one wants to be left with a piece they can’t keep but won’t giveaway!

A quick search of DeviantART’s Projects forum, or a social media post titles “FREE ART” will bring you more than enough leads, and you can cherry pick the work you want to do! Plus, it could get you brownie points with your audience, which is always nice! 🙂

3. Fan art!!!

Contrary to what some people believe, fan art is real art, and it always will be. (Fight me.) If you’re obsessed with a show *cough*GameOfThrones*cough* or a book series *cough*ASongOfIceAndFire*cough* or even a movie *cough*PleaseMakeAGoTMovie*cough*, fan art is probably something you’ll enjoy a lot.

If you’ve never heard of fan art (which I seriously doubt), it’s when you recreate concepts, designs or characters based off a work of art that already exists. I usually like to do fan art in series (mostly because I can’t leave some of the characters hanging), and that ensures 5-6 pieces from each show/movie/book on an average. Below is my BBC Sherlock series.

It’s so easy to get carried away with fan art, though, so depending on what audience you’re seeking, remember there are other subjects out there as well!

(Psst! There will be a whole post about fan art very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that!)

Finally, always remember that an art portfolio is supposed to be a reflection of you as an artist, and your love for what you do. A lot of people try to ‘put on’ a popular art style on their portfolio to get more clients or leads or to grow their audience, and then end up hating what they do, because it’s just not them!

So stay true to who you are, and you’ll have a blazing hot portfolio in no time!

If you find this post useful, please share it with other artists! And if you have any portfolio tips of your own, please leave a comment below, so we may all learn from each other! 🙂

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a fabulous Wednesday!

S. xx

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